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Mystery High School Fantasy

Normalton Public Library was one of the few grand buildings of the small town: a ‘bastion of knowledge and wisdom,’ the poetically-inclined called it. The stone lions guarding the entrance yawned and stretched before settling back down on their pedestals. 

It was overcast. The wind blew down empty streets.

The stone feline on the left turned its head lazily to watch a patron trudging up the steps.

She was a girl in her teen years with brunette hair. A smattering of freckles ran from the bridge of her nose to below her brown eyes. Her young face was contorted with concentration as a large raven sat upon her left shoulder. 

Neither bird nor girl paid the enchanted lions any mind as she pushed the library doors open and strode in. 

“Tomtittat...” The girl repeated to herself, muttering the syllables over and over again. The name was so familiar to her. 

“Hello, Yvette.” The librarian’s voice stirred the girl from her thoughts. Yvette looked at the librarian behind the desk: A lizardwoman with perenez glasses upon her snout. “I’m afraid we have no new myssstery novelsss yet. You’ve read them all.” 

The girl waved off the librarian. “That’s alright Mrs. Strode. I’m not sure what I’m looking for myself.” 

“BOOKS!” The raven on Yvette’s shoulder cawed loudly. Mrs. Strode looked up from behind her large front desk, stopping her ceaseless stamping of library books.

Yvette put a hand to the raven. “Shh, Cole, this is a library.” 

Mrs. Strode regarded the young woman. “Well, young witch. You jussst let me know if you need help.”

Yvette nodded, she did need help but she had no idea where to look for the help she needed. The library was always a place to calm her mind. She walked across the carpets and through the stacks. 

The books whispered to her - sometimes literally - to be read: promises of secrets and wonders. The wind outside was moving the trees in a waving motion, their shadows playing on the stacks of books, the building creaking softly.

Turning a corner she saw an old satyr gentleman had fallen asleep in his chair with the newspaper still open. A little fae girl and a young human boy were reading a picture book together in the childrens’ corner. The atmosphere brought a sense of calm emptiness to the young witch and she began to recall the events that brought her to the library to seek answers. 

While it was calm in the library, Yvette’s small town was in the midst of a crime wave. Several homes and businesses had reported robberies in the past few days. At every site there was no sign of entry but a key item had been stolen: something noticeable. 

A prized painting, a record player, a TV... Always just one item, but an item that would be missed. At every robbery site, the culprit had left a calling card: Bright red paint on the wall or floor - and once the ceiling - spelling out the word: ‘Tomtittat.’ 

Who or what was ‘Tomtittat’? 

The word seemed vaguely familiar to Yvette, as though she had heard it in passing once. Yvette’s father - the chief of the small town’s police force - was being run ragged trying to find out who or what was behind the robberies, interviewing and collecting notes late into the night. Mayor Gravewhisper was leaning on him extra hard to do something, especially since the vampire’s favorite statuette had been taken and his office defaced.

“TOMTITTAT!”

Yvette walked for a while and found a desolate section of the library. She sat at a long table. After a few moments she realized that this must have been a very old section: the lights were all candles and torches instead of electrical there.

Yvette was only a high school student, but she had a knack for stumbling upon mysteries and getting to the root of them. This crime spree left no doubt in her mind that the perpetrator was either a skilled spellcaster or an extremely gifted thief. From the investigations, there was no residual energy from spells being cast. 

“How did you do it?” Yvette wandered aloud as she extracted her personal spellbook from her pack. She perused the pages looking for keywords, looking for exploits a thieving mage would use. 

Tomtittat. 

“Tomtittat...” 

“Tomtittat?” Mrs. Strode asked as she passed by with a cart full of books she was returning to the shelves. 

Yvette frowned. “Haven’t you been following the local news? There’s a serial robber on the loose.” 

Strode waved it off. “Ahhh, I have been bussssy cataloging. What’sss a robber have to do with Tomtittat?”

“That word is their calling card.” 

Strodes tail thumped against the floor. “‘Tomtittat’ isss a figure from mythology. A trickster mage, if I recall.” 

Yvette started nodding slowly, then more vigorously. “I’m vaguely recalling the story.”

“One moment,” Strode said as she left the young witch before returning with a stack of fables. 

“Read up, dearie.” 

Yvette skimmed the stack of short books. Tomtittat was indeed a trickster and fiend: half fae and half human, he was skilled in the magic arts and had a flair for the dramatic. Whoever the thief was, he must have identified with the character. It was a good factoid but not enough to solve the case. 

Cole the raven was pecking at a pack of cheesecrackers someone had left on the table. Yvette regarded her familiar, gave him a quick pet, and did what her father had taught her to do when a case was stumping her: “Reconsider the evidence.” 

No residual energy, no sign of a break in. A lot of familiars were medium-sized animals: cats, birds... could a familiar sneak into a house and unlock a door? Cole could do it but only if a window was left open, or there was a crevice wide enough - ravens were fairly large for birds.

“Interesting,” she said to herself, leaning back in her chair. “If I could figure out what kind of familiar they used, I could narrow the list...”

Someone had used a familiar to gain access to the buildings, or they were just really good at picking locks. But for some reason the use of a familiar just seemed to resonate with Yvette. Perhaps it was their insistence to go by the moniker of Tomtittat.   

Tomtittat in the stories was half-human, half-fae. 

“They're half-human and half-fae and have a familiar!” She muttered to herself, Cole didn’t even bother looking up from his little pile of crackers nearby. 

Who fit that profile and would have a familiar that could breach buildings easily? Once they were inside, they could open a door with some strenuous concentration by their master. She stood and walked back through the memorized hallways of the library to the Familiars section.

It was more well lit here, but as it was a Satyrsday - completely empty. She saw one book fly too close to Cole, who cawed in annoyance when it ruffled his feathers. Another book - gray and furry - growled as she passed. Yvette walked to the front of the aisle, ducking a few books leaping from shelf to shelf and grabbed a harmless-looking, but rather thick, book off the shelf.

Mellerman’s Guide to the Interaction of Fae and Familiars,” she said to herself. “Mellerman, have you been getting - ” she huffed - “heavier?” She dumped the book onto a nearby table and turned to the index, causing Cole to readjust himself on her shoulder.

“Half-fae, Familiar interactions with. 128.”

She turned to the stated page and began reading. “Because fae are too strongly bonded with the lifestream to have familiars - lest they themselves be absorbed - half-fae rarely have them, and when they do, they tend to be smaller creatures such as mice or creatures that are less than an ounce. Most mages employ larger animals, thus making mice and shrews and other such beasts very rare as familiars, limited mostly to half-faes.” She closed the book and reluctantly hefted it back to its resting place.

“That narrows it down, I think,” she said, scratching Cole’s neck feathers.

Yvette wondered if the library kept census records, perhaps she could really narrow down her search. The witch sleuth hadn’t made it very far when Cole squawked. 

“MOUSEY!” Cole cawed. Yvette looked to see a mouse with glowing green eyes and a large metal ink stamp in its mouth. 

The familiar! 

Mrs. Strode was shouting in a non librarian voice, “Where’s my stamp!?”

“Go get him Cole!” Yvette ordered her familiar. 

The raven cawed and flew after the mouse as it skittered between shelves. Yvette ran along with the familiars as her footsteps echoed in the library. The mouse skittered under a book cart and Cole cawed in frustration. Yvette kicked the book cart over and hardbacks clattered to the floor, a few of which moaned in pain. 

The mouse gave a pitiful squeak as it tried to skitter away again, but the raven was quick to snatch it by the tail and held it aloft. Acting quickly Yvette found an empty coffee mug and had Cole drop the rodent within, as she followed up by sliding a book over the top of it. 

“Gotcha you little pest!” Yvette grinned. 

Cole hopped about happily, as he seized the stamp in his beak. Triumphantly, girl and raven strode to the front desk. 

“Your stamp Mrs. Strode,” Yvette smiled as she approached the lizardwoman. Mrs. Strode cocked her head curiously as Yvette dropped the item into her scaly hand. “Would you happen to have a jar? I have a naughty familiar here, with an even naughtier master.” 

The reptile woman was all too happy to provide a jar. The mouse familiar scratched uselessly at the glass. Putting on her best tough cop impersonation Yvette spoke to the mouse. 

“We’re taking you downtown, bud,” she said, the mouse cowering in the corner. “They’ll trace you back to your owner, and probably find a stash of stolen items.”

Not far from the library, in Normalton’s maltshop, a half-fae warlock with wild yellow hair in a purple, double-breasted suit was giggling to himself as he slurped on his chocolate malt and gyrating to the jukebox, making other patrons move away. Soon his faithful mouse would return with that stuck up librarian's stamp. 

Aaaaany minute now.

The young man cocked his head, he should have been back. 

“Hey Timmy, you alright?” The harpy waitress asked. 

“Don’t call me Timmy!” He said, his green eyes flaring. “And, no, I’m not all right. Hang on,” he said, knocking over his malt as he stood up. He made a ruckus as he ran out the door, almost knocking the harpy over in the process.

“H-Hey! Get back here, you haven’t paid yet!” 

The warlock stamped up Main Street, drawn to where he could sense his familiar. Timmy could sense his little familiar’s heart like a distress beacon, beating hard. Up the stairs past the animated lions he went before slamming the doors open, waking them both up as they roared in confusion.

The wind was still moving through the otherwise quiet town.

He marched right up to the circulation desk where he saw his mouse in a jar. He sucked in his breath at who he saw on the other side. 

“Yvette! Of course, I should have figured a nosy girl like you would get involved. You’re going to wish you didn’t have that habit one of these days.” 

Yvette turned. “So I take it that’s a confession, Timmy?” 

“Don’t call me Timmy!”

“‘Tomtittat’ then? You have quite the ego.”  

It was at that moment that Tim realized how much his foot had sunk into things. Scowling, he conjured up a stun spell as Yvette called forth a pair of shadow tendrils that she cracked like whips, missing Tim but sending wind whipping through the stacks. Mrs. Strode duck below her table with a feeble, “not again...”

The two spellcasters faced off as the few library patrons scrambled for cover, except for the old satyr who seemed like he would sleep through it all. 

Timmy hurled his spell and Yvette ducked the spell before advancing with a darklash, Tim shielded himself but it buckled from the impact and in desperation the warlock gave Yvette a magic shove that sent her reeling backwards as if she’d been gut punched. 

“That all you got?” Yvette growled. 

“I’m just getting started, honey!”

*POOM!* 

Timmy screamed, falling over and writhing. Yvette’s ears were still ringing as she  looked over at the circulation desk to see Mrs. Strode with what looked like a smoking shotgun.

“Mrs. Strode?!” Yvette said, astonished and somewhat horrified. “Did you just... kill him?”

“It’sss just rockssssalt, dearie,” Mrs. Strode said, rotating the gun and blowing the smoke away. “Magesss hate rocksssalt.” 

“Why do you even have a shotgun at the circulation desk?”

The reptile woman took out a handkerchief and gave a quick polish to the firearm. “A dark mage tried to sssummon a demon in my library once.” 

“It was only that one time!” the satyr called over from beneath his newspaper, not even bothering to lift it off his face.

Mrs. Strode put the shotgun back in its hidden shelf under the desk and stood up, holding a phone receiver. “I am calling your father, Yvette. Now we can add assssssault to hisss rap sheet.”   

Yvette shook her head. “I’m going to renew my books on time from now on.” 

It began to rain outside.

April 22, 2022 20:53

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2 comments

Olivia Snead
19:19 Apr 28, 2022

I enjoyed your story. Your style is good, and it's a pleasant read. You have good creative imagination as well. Thank you for submitting it.

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M B
22:21 Apr 28, 2022

Thank you for reading it, and commenting!

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